Is This The Dumbest Science Ever?

Is This The Dumbest Science Ever?

If this isn’t the dumbest science ever, it’s close. The peer-reviewed paper is “The effect of temperature on language complexity: Evidence from seven million parliamentary speeches” by Risto Conte Keivabu and Tobias Widmann in Cell.

Here, as the wrote them, are the “highlights” of the paper:

  • Heat has been associated with decreased productivity and cognitive performance
  • We find warmer temperatures to reduce language complexity of politicians
  • In Germany, we observe a larger effect of warm days on older politicians
  • Climate change could reduce the speech complexity and productivity of politicians

Old people increasingly dominate Western politics. A class too fearful to let go of power, suspecting, perhaps, that if they do they will live out the rest of their short miserable lives in pain. Maybe.

Think of the shuffling senility that leads this country. Recall the speeches he plagiarized when he was more youthful, before “climate change” hit. Rich, and full of complexity, those speeches. Now pick any public appearance from the last year, a year deep inside “climate change”, and compare the content of his recent utterances, or gutterlances, with those plagiarized speeches.

What do you notice? “Climate change”, say our authors, is causing those speeches to grow dumber. It’s Science.

Let’s see how they did it.

“Climate change,” they say, “is causing a steady increase in temperatures with consequences on several dimensions of human wellbeing.” Which is not true. Which is to say, it is false. My parents flee to Michigan’s third peninsula every winter in search of a steady increase in temperature to improve their well being. Heat is not bad. I write this on a day in mid June in which we will not even see 70 F. (Even though I really really want it to.)

Speech complexity of political discourse has been studied extensively in social science research. Looking at long term developments, studies indicate that language complexity of political language has steadily decreased over the past 200 years.

One could say, as I do say, that this is because of the spread of democracy and increase in government power, which necessitates and drives a decrease in political language complexity. The greater proportion of the populace you want to coerce, the simpler your words must become. You cannot in these once United States open a speech with “Imagine you didn’t have breakfast this morning” and have any hope that all will understand you.

You can, though, get people to grasp “Be afraid! Climate change! Be afraid!”

We put forth the hypothesis that extreme temperatures negatively affect speech complexity among politicians, thereby leading to a simplification of political rhetoric.

I don’t know the stats for Europe, but Tony Heller tracks the USA and tweeted (with graph) “About 30% of the US was over 90F yesterday [19 June], which is average for the date since 1895, and down more than 50% since 1931.” Extreme temperatures are not increasing. Propaganda is. His tweet coincided with hersterical propaganda over a minor heat wave in summer.

Anyway, our authors grabbed “7,425,184 speeches from 28,523 politicians” from half a dozen or so Western countries, rated the speeches’ complexity by the “Flesch-Kincaid score”, then crammed all this into a regression, where the real magic happened.

Injected into the regression were “dummy variables using temperature bins based on the following 10 temperature ranges: <0°C; 0°C–3°C; 3°C–6°C; 6°C–9°C; 9°C to 12°C; 12°C–18°C (comfort zone); 18°C to 21°C; 21°C to 24°C; 24°C to 27°C; >27°C.”

Each of those bins gets a “coefficient” in the regression. They claim “coefficients should be interpreted as the effect of out of comfort temperature (12°C–18°C) on the speech complexity of an individual politician relative to a day in the comfort zone”.

This is hilariously asinine with nothing to recommend it. Your body’s speech-making capabilities do not respond to discrete three-degree jumps in temperature. The thing itself is absurd.

But they got—drumroll—wee p-values! Which, we guess nobody ever told them, are almost impossible not to get with sample sizes this large.

They suggest geezers are affected more by the heat. Forgetting there are now more geezers in power than times before, and that the old seek heat. A warmed-pver gerontocracy rules.

But then they say this, which gave me a spit take: “we observe the impact of heat on the Flesch-Kincaid score to be concentrated on the day of the speech, as we do not observe temperatures on the previous three days to affect our outcome suggesting an acute effect on the day of the speech.”

Given politicians read off teleprompters, and that they do not usually compose their speeches on the days they deliver them, the authors have just proved their own thesis is false, a figment of wee p-values.

The real lesson is that being intelligent does not make you smart. Stupidity is still a live possibility for every intelligent person.

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  1. Carlos Julio Casanova Guerra

    You say: “Given politicians read off teleprompters, and that they do not usually compose their speeches on the days they deliver them, the authors have just proved their own thesis is false, a figment of wee p-values”. But it’s worse than that: politicians don’t write their speeches, they have people for that (unless it’s Fidel, Chávez or some one like that). This thing, this “study” doesn’t even have an object, it’s just a waste of time and effort

  2. Briggs



  3. This is what happens when you put P. T. Barnum, Ellsworth Huntington, and Jared Diamond in a sack and shake it well. Blowhard environmental determinism on a skateboard.

  4. Dr. Weezil

    “Heat has been associated with decreased productivity and cognitive performance.”

    Years ago, someone plotted a comparison to European local temperatures versus general cultural and historical trends. The observation was that flourishing of human society, the medieval building and art explosion, contrasted against the “dark ages” and Black Death, where such work was effectively abandoned, corresponded directly with increased annual temperatures. In brief, cold weather makes your mind slow and also makes you not want to do anything.

    But if you plotted back further in history and forward, the same trend appeared.

    They’re conning us, as usual, with this nonsense.

  5. Hagfish Bagpipe

    “Is This The Dumbest Science Ever?”

    Maybe Dumb Science is caused by Climate Change? Could be a new study. All these studies can be generated by AI. They just regurgitate each other’s nonsense so why not automate the process? Briggs, you’re a clever chap, you could have made big money in Dumb Science. Any man with your knowledge of mentalist trickery, mastery of pseudo-scientific gibberish and statistical sleight-of-hand, a code-talking, typewriter-banging, verbally voluble vector of… of, ah, vertiginous… (what, vegemite?). Ran out of V words. Anyway, with your talents, but minus your morals, you could have made a killing in the modern Nonsense Industry. The whole world in thrall to your top drawer mumbo-jumbo. Your idiot-grinning facebook face plastered everywhere. Stupid bimbos throwing their underwear at you like you’re the Tom Jones of jive-talking nugatory numerology. And you threw it all away. As Johnno would say, BRIGGS YOU FOOL! But you got style, man. There’s that. Have a great summer weekend.

  6. Cloudbuster

    Yeah, those guys who wrote and debated the Declaration of Independence on a hot summer in Philadelphia in a building with the windows closed (and more than a century before the discovery of air conditioning) to avoid being overheard — they were obviously functionally idiots.

  7. Jim Fedako

    Hmmm. You easily recast temperature and language complexity in a manner that would cancel this study. Seems only Norther Europeans, those living on cooler climates, ever possessed complex language skills. Is that really the claim here. Hmmm, once again.

  8. Phil R

    “Climate change could reduce the speech complexity and productivity of politicians.”

    And this is considered to be a problem how? it’s their overproductivity that creates most of the problems in the first place.

  9. Phil R

    Hagfish Bagpipe,


  10. Incitadus

    Brought to you by the Davos Club: “With enough time and money I can make you believe
    anything I want.” They now want to control disinformation because they’re the principal source
    of the most disruptive disinformation that will cost the world trillions. He who dares wins is their motto.

  11. JH

    Michigan snowbirds head south to avoid the cold winter and back to Michigan to avoid extreme summer heat in Florida. Doesn’t this show that extreme temperatures are indeed not good for our well-being?

  12. BDavi52

    The Real Causal Link here is between the Rising Temps of Climate Change (Oh The Horror)….

    [Quick interjection: I would strongly suggest that every time anyone uses the phrase, ‘Climate Change’, that usage should be immediately followed by the parenthetical (Oh The Horror)….just to make sure everyone gets the message while simultaneously establishing our Woke Bonafides]

    ….and the Sheer Stupidity displayed by Western Governments.

    The higher temps rise, the stupider they get.
    Though I suspect the causation is probably exponential in nature. A 5 degree increase in today’s temps (5 degrees more than some other day) yields a 25 point decline in government stupidity.

    The problem is that the Quality of Government Thinking is not particulary robust or resilient. The spring-back factor when temps drop is nowhere near 100%. Like a rubberband which is overstretched continually, the Government mind increasingly loses its cognitive elasticity. Thus a 5 degree rise with its 25 point intelligence decline …. followed by a 5 degree drop next Monday….does not and cannot yield a recovery of those lost 25 points. Indeed, at some point there is no recovery at all….and government intelligence (which does seem rather oxymoronish) just lies there, limp & unresponsive.

    Climate Change (Oh The Horror) is making them permanently stupider!
    And like a Tsunami, all we can really do in response is run away and seek higher ground.

  13. Hun

    “Heat has been associated with decreased productivity and cognitive performance”

    Maybe this is true. Just look at Africa 🙂

  14. Kip Hansen

    Some might know that politicians speeches are normally delivered in air conditioned locations — the floor of the US Congress or the House of Lords. It would be unlikely that speeches (many written by professional speech writers) are composed in the comfort of climate controlled offices by a person who seldom actually experiences ambient outdoor temperature for more the then few minutes between climate controlled building and climate controlled automobile to climate controlled home.

    Like so so many medical studies, the ACTUAL EXPOSURE to the hypothesized cause has not been measured — at all!

  15. Phil R

    “Michigan snowbirds head south to avoid the cold winter and back to Michigan to avoid extreme summer heat in Florida. Doesn’t this show that extreme temperatures are indeed not good for our well-being?”

    No. Next question?

  16. Cary D Cotterman

    Twenty-plus years ago “studies” like this one would only have appeared in satire publications.

  17. John M

    Reading Briggs and other discuss climate change has reduced my laguage complexity. I have noticed a significant increase of thoughts and use of four letter words.

  18. JH

    Phil R, but… Briggs said that my parents flee to Michigan’s third peninsula every winter in search of a steady increase in temperature to improve their well being? Anyhow, extreme temperatures can negatively affect our health, particularly for elderly individuals like myself.

  19. Hagfish Bagpipe

    Phil R — “verisimilitude?”

    Had to look that up in my Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition, Unabridged, 1934.:

    verisimilitude n [L. verisimilitudo; MF. verisimilitude See VERISIMILAR.]

    verisimilar — Having the appearance of truth; probable; likely. “How verisimilar it looks.” -Carlisle.

    Excellent suggestion, Phil. Certainly Briggs, but for his inexplicable, crippling moral scruples, could have been a master at presenting nonsense that had, “the appearance of truth”.

    And while we’re at it, vertiginous, adj. [L. vertinginosus, fr. vertigo a whirling around, giddiness; cf F. vertigineux. See VERTIGO.] 1. Turning round; rotary; revolving.

    I edit my post to more properly describe the Anti-Briggs as a “verbally voluble vector of vertiginous verisimilitude”.

    Thanks Phil.

  20. Johnno


    What this paper tells us is that we ought to KILL our politicians to SAVE the Planet and keep the World War, COLD!

    I support THE SCIENCE ™!!!

  21. Hagfish Bagpipe

    Johnno: “BRIGGS YOU FOOL!!!” — See? — WhutI’mtawkin’bout, man.

  22. Charles Curtis

    Aren’t these people the same sort who reflexively mewl “correlation does not equal causation” when presented with data sets that contradict their prejudices; such as say data showing heightened excess deaths immediately subsequent mass acceptance of novel “vaccination technology?”

    This “climate change is inevitably always everywhere harmful” narrative is so mind numbingly idiotic, it makes my brain bleed. The sheer craven stupidity and malice of these sycophantic “scientists” is dismaying.. I’m not demoralized, though. They may have “institutional authority” backed by plutocratic power, yet the majority of people I interact with are impervious to this nonsense.. The minority that are influenced by it, are mostly abashed by the sheer stupidity of it, and when they try to argue in defense of it, cannot bring themselves to be whole hearted about it.

    These ridiculous illusionists are losing, sanity and resistance are burgeoning, and that is a very beautiful thing to see.

  23. Milton Hathaway

    My, how I do love me some vivid vernacular imagery, and Mr Bagpipe delivers yet again, bimbos and all.

    I just got through watching the debate. Biden did a lot better than I was expecting, which isn’t saying much, I guess. He still came across as the bitter unpleasant man he has always been, but now lacks the self-awareness to hide it behind the usual oleaginous dollop of smarminess, an absolute requirement to rise to inhabit the ranks of the floating surface scum of the Demonrat party.

    The most interesting and unexpected thing I heard: Trump strongly implied, but didn’t overtly state, that he is going to fire a whole bunch of people if/when elected. Of course, that could just be intense wishful thinking on my part.

    I also think I actually heard Trump call Biden “Brandon” at one point, but my hearing isn’t what it used to be.

  24. Phil R

    Hagfish Bagpipe,

    Thanks for the comment. I’d be less than honest if I didn’t admit that I had to look it up first and make sure it actually meant something.

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